Travel agents are unprepared for Flight-Plus, the April deadline for the new Atol is “impossible” and the reforms risk “failing in their aims”, the Association of Atol Companies (AAC) has warned.
In a submission to the final Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) consultation on the changes, which ended last week, the ACC warned the industry is not ready.
The association said: “Few travel agents appear to have taken any steps to be ready for Flight-Plus sales.” It points out the requirements for the agency agreements retailers will be required to have in place by the end of April "are not yet available”.
The ACC said: “By rushing to meet an impossible deadline the government is failing in its stated aims of improving consumer protection.”
AAC legal advisor Alan Bowen said: “The last month has produced too many unanswered questions and we see real risks in jumping ahead before the industry appreciates the changes and the consequences of those changes.
“The timescales are virtually impossible to meet within the next month. Very few agents are ready to begin Flight-Plus sales and there has been only one Accredited Body named so far.”
Bowen added: “We need to step back and make sure we get it right the first time.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) has set a deadline of April 30 for introducing Flight-Plus licences although the Atol Certificates for consumers that go with this extension of the Atol scheme will not be introduced until October 1.
Abta has asked the DfT and CAA to postpone the start date for the agency agreements that accompany the requirement for Flight-Plus licences.
The CAA has said “a bit of flexibility” might be possible. However, it points out the agency agreements are necessary to determine whether a company requires a Flight-Plus Atol.
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